Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fear of Filing

I had a client this week meet me at the door with Judith Kolberg's book ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life and the words, "I want to find out why I have a fear of filing".

I knew from working with this client before in other areas of her home that she definitely suffers from the "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome. She is afraid that if she puts something away in a file, she might as well just trash it because she will never think of it again. So she has stacks of papers on the coffee table, on her desk, on her office table, and randomly elsewhere. The clutter bothers her and the fact that when she finds something (ex. papers about her father's health plan) it is usually just a part of what she needs to start her research and make calls so she just postpones the task. This worries her as some of the tasks are time sensitive.

Sooo....What to do?
  1. First we gathered all of her papers and put them in one spot.
  2. Then we used the "verb" system to do a rough sort. I would ask her, "What is the first thing you need to do with this information? Is there an action required or do you just need this paper for reference?" While going through all of the papers she found a significant amount that she could now just let go to the recycle bin. She had a reason in the past to  keep them but not so much now. The categories she came up with for her stacks were:
  • Do this task this week
  • Do it when I can
  • Wait for the right time or someone else's response
  • Read
  • File
  • Ask my husband about these papers
3. We then looked at what papers did not really fit into any of those categories and we found:
  • Coupons
  • Current information about her clean streams work
  • A project she was working on for her dad
  • Memorabilia
  • Directions and warranties for items in the house
4. We found homes for all of these categories. Normally when I make desktop or action folders I like  to use a cascading vertical file holder. We had tried this system earlier in her office downstairs. It obviously was not working.  She had recently purchased an attractive file folder with a lid that clasped and had a handle. This has a much better chance of working because it can stay by the coffee table in her living room and this is where she sorts her mail and does many of her projects. The handle allows her to lift it up on the coffee table or couch when she is working. We relabeled the tabs with all her "verb" categories and the one on streams. Coupons were housed in the kitchen. Memorabilia was put into a memorabilia box. A project box was found for her dad's project. Warranties and directions already had a file elsewhere but she put the directions for the TV in the cabinet below the screen and the directions for her heart monitor in the box it came in as she accesses these frequently.

5. Since we had a lot to file, we used her existing systems to file those items now. Moving forward she can put items in her file section of her folder until it gets too bulky.

6. Last we did the most important task to make this work. She scheduled on her calendar times to look in this folder. I encouraged her to make it the same day every week so that it would eventually become a habit. Ideally this would be every week but some weeks she is gone so we just skipped those weeks and scheduled the next good time after she returned home.

As we finished up our session, she was really pleased with the results. But she held one small set of papers in her hand. "I really need to do this today," she said. "Do I need to put it into this file?" That's when we talked about Judith's "Hot Spot". She designated a place on her coffee table for any paper task that needed to happen immediately.

I think her fear of filing might be gone!


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Time Management and Health


This morning another client wanted to change his appointment for an organizing session. This happens fairly frequently with clients and often the reason is illness, exhaustion, or overwhelm. I'd like to explore how not just reducing clutter and organizing your space but also developing some good time management techniques could actually improve your health.

Here are some practices that help a person stay healthy.
  •  Healthy eating
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercise
  • Keeping mentally active
  • Maintaining strong relationships
  • Taking vacations
All of the above practices take time and at best should become routine. If we push ourselves all day long at work and then squander what free time we have on social media or grabbing a snack, we will deplete ourselves and illness, exhaustion, and overwhelm will become a mainstay in our lives.

To allow time to develop these health practices we need to:
  • Develop schedules that are realistic - block off times for self as well as for work and then honor those times.
  • Prioritize - choose the 3 most important things you want to accomplish in a day and start your day with exercise and a good breakfast. Then end your day in time to get enough sleep.
  • Stop multitasking - do one thing and do it well. Aim to complete a task before moving on to another. When you take breaks from a task, make it a meaningful break not just a scroll through twitter or facebook. Instead, read an article or work on a puzzle or take a walk.
  • Schedule times to do things with friends and family. Schedule lunch dates. Schedule vacations. People who take annual vacations are less likely to die from heart disease. They are also less likely to suffer from stress and depression.
I struggle with some of this misuse of time myself and I know lifestyle shifts are not easy but our future selves will surely thank us if we start working on a couple of these practices.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Organizing Space With a Small Child



That new bundle of joy comes into your home and suddenly your home explodes with baby clothes, furniture, baby accessories, toys, books, feeding apparatus, and more. How did this happen and what to do now?


  1. Utilize the container system. I feel that as long as you can contain items in an orderly fashion, you can have as much "stuff" as gives you pleasure. A container can be the shelf for the books, the drawer for the sleepers, the hammock for the stuffed animals, the room for toys, and even consider your house as a container. When a container is full, no more items can come in unless some go away first.
  2. Set ground rules for gifts. When a baby first arrives or even before, there are parties and gifts start arriving. It helps everyone if there is a gift register and there is no sin in taking back to the store duplicates or items that just won't work in your space. After that first influx, let it be known that gifts should just appear on birthdays and special holidays - not every time someone is out shopping and sees something cute. Let gift givers know your boundaries - like no gifts with batteries or a gazillion small pieces or items bigger than a breadbox. If a grandparent or favorite uncle brings in a large or loud gift, thank them and tell them that they should keep that toy at their home for baby to play with when they visit.
  3. Set limits on books. Children have favorites that they love to hear over and over again but I have seen bookcases overflowing with books - for children not even in kindergarten. Cull books regularly. Locate independent book stores that will accept used books for credit. Remember the library? What fun to go once a month or every two weeks and pick out some books to enjoy!
  4. Rotate toys and books. If there are too many books and toys around, the children tend to play with one of them a few minutes and then drop it and go to another one, etc. They get bored easily and can't focus on any one thing. I have been in playrooms where you can't even see the floor. Decide on a good number and variety of toys depending on your child's attention span and age and then store the remainder of toys. In a few months, put away some of the less played with toys (or give them away if all interest is gone or they have aged out of it) and then bring out some of the stashed toys.
  5. Arrange the storage of items that are out so the toys, books, puzzles, etc. can easily be put away. Have items at eye level for the child. Have bins labeled with words and pictures and do not put lids on the bins. Make it easy for small children to scoop up their blocks and dump them into the appropriate bin or container. Teach children at a young age to put their toys away at night.
There is no right way to all of this. Find what works for you and your family. Remember that the house belongs to the adults - not the children. Find your happy place and then enjoy it together.

For more ideas see the following: both books are available on Amazon or Barnes and Nobel.





Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Organizing the Bathroom Zone

If you are following my zone plan, this month is the month to work on organizing your bathrooms. If you have a linen closet, include it in this zone.

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your home but it is also one that holds many items. A bathroom can get disorganized and cluttered quickly, so it is important to have a vision and a plan for how you want to use this space. Keep clutter to a minimum.

Look at the storage space you have available. Do you have room to store your medicines and first aid material here? Do you have room to house any cleaning materials? To keep your bathroom uncluttered, some of what you store here can go somewhere else.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink to store items that you need and use regularly. Store your daily grooming supplies here. Use a bin, small basket, or drawer for cosmetics you use almost daily. A medicine cabinet can store toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, q tips, and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays, and all items for your hair might be stored in a container under the sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bag on the back of your bathroom door for storage. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items could also fit under the sink.

If you have drawers, designate each drawer as a container for like items. One drawer might hold everyday makeup, another might hold eye products, and a third hair products, etc.

As you are sorting your like items together, consolidate partial bottles and get rid of any items you are no longer using or items past their expiration date.

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth may be stored inside your shower or tub. There are shower caddies that fit over the door of your shower or over the shower head. Another option is to use a shower dispenser to hold shampoo or body wash.

Medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or in the kitchen. Both spaces are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. Consider sorting your  medicines by type and placing them in separate bins. One bin might hold outdoor items like sunscreen, bug spray, or Benadryl. Another might hold Tylenol, aspirin, and cold/allergy medicines. Still another might hold harger items like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and mouthwash. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but they can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items safely. Do not toss medicines in the trash and never flush them into our water system. The DEA offers a Prescriptions Drug Take Back Day which occurs in October this year. Check http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html for more information.

If you have a linen closet, keep extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. The linen closet is also a good place to store any duplicate items. But as you organize, be ruthless about throwing out items. You don't need 5 partial bottles of shampoo, 6 sample soaps, or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

If you don't have a linen closet you may use towel hooks, over the toilet shelving, or baskets to store your extra towels, wash cloths, and toilet paper.

When you have your bathroom organized and decluttered, then work on a maintenance schedule to keep it under control. Next year, when you revisit this zone, it will be an easier process.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer